2011-08-12

Reflection: 2011 Summer at NIST

I've mentioned a few times here that I have been interning at NIST this summer. Well, after 12 weeks, today was my last day, and for the next 3 weeks before I go back to college I get to chill out and bum around at home with family and friends. Yay!
I am really, really happy that I got to be able to do my internship this summer. It almost didn't happen; it wasn't until a few weeks before I started that I got confirmation that I could start in the first place. (That's better than my 2009 summer internship at NIST, where I didn't find anything until a few days before I started.) Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, and for the first time, I got paid too! Yay!
Last time, I was working on random stuff regarding reflective surfaces. I enjoyed this one more because I feel like LEDs are more relevant to and more popularly talked about in the discussion about energy conservation than is reflective roofing; this has become especially true with all the debate about the bill that would outlaw the sale of lightbulbs below a certain energy efficiency level. (That bill did not pass in the end, but it did bring LEDs into the spotlight of national attention.) The other reasons why I enjoyed this internship more were that in this one, I got to work in the lab more, I had more coursework background (for obvious reasons), and this internship was much more structured than the last one, where I basically did random data analysis here and there every few days and that was it (along with going to the lab 2 or 3 times in all the 8 weeks of the 2009 summer). This summer, I was able to rigorously detect problems in some of the equipment we were using; these were not manufacturing defects but were fundamental issues in the design of the equipment, because these machines, which I would use to maintain individual chip LEDs at a stable set junction temperature by altering the forward voltage and the temperature of the variable heat sink upon which the LED would sit, would often report that the heat sink was hotter than the LED at low (~<100 mA) currents, which made no sense. I was also able to develop an algorithm for removing flicker from existing LED lamp data. Finally, I got to play around with a spectroscope measuring properties of LEDs inside an integrating sphere.
I doubt my supervisors will read this, but I want to thank them (again) for letting me experience this awesome opportunity. But after that, if you'll excuse me, I have some relaxing to do. Woohoo!

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